White House urges Johnson to 'move quickly' on foreign aid as Speaker faces moment of truth

 April 16, 2024

The White House is pressuring Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to hurry up and unblock foreign aid to Ukraine - and potentially put his job at risk by crossing a red line for House Republicans who accuse him of failing to put "America First." 

Biden spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Johnson "has to move quickly" as he stares down a threat of removal from pro-Trump hardliner Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.).

Mike Johnson CAVES

Republican voters, and a vocal minority of GOP lawmakers, have objected to continued support for Ukraine without a solution to the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Greene has threatened to trigger a "motion to vacate" if Johnson moves to support Ukraine. A second Republican, isolationist Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), joined Greene's push on Tuesday.

But Johnson's narrow Republican majority has given Democrats leverage to squeeze him for concessions.

They are offering tentatively to help him keep his job if he unlocks foreign aid money, which he now appears inclined to do.

Johnson has reportedly split up a $95 billion foreign aid bill into separate pieces on Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel. The White House has pushed for a single bill bundling those priorities together, but top spokesman John Kirby sounded cautiously supportive of Johnson's idea on Tuesday.

“It does appear at first blush that the Speaker’s proposal will in fact help us get aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel and needed resources to the Indo-Pacific for a wide range of contingencies there. At first blush it looks like that, we just want to get more details,” he added.

Moment of truth

Johnson's plan untethers foreign aid from border security, a reversal after Johnson spent months tying the two issues together.

While Greene has blasted Johnson as a sellout, he has accused Greene of hurting the GOP and President Trump's electoral prospects by dividing the party.

"I am not resigning," Johnson said Tuesday. "And it is, in my view, an absurd notion that someone would bring a vacate motion when we are simply here trying to do our jobs."

Johnson did not share the details of his foreign aid plan with President Trump when they met at Mar-A-Lago last week in a show of unity, ABC reported.

As a result, Trump's team was blindsided when Johnson claimed they were "100%" on the same page in a Fox News interview Sunday.

Johnson's team later said that the Speaker and Johnson are not "fully aligned on ... every piece of any legislation."

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